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Tiny living vs wide open spaces... - Peak Oil Preparedness
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Tiny living vs wide open spaces...
I've spent a good chunk of today resting my bad knee reading up on tiny houses. Micro houses. The ones that fit onto a trailer and can be towed about. 

There's a couple of things I like about them, and a few things I don't.  There's some novel ideas, awesome ideas around living simply, living with less and so on.  Storage seems to be a key issue. 

Obviously they are very low cost - you are building something the size of a postage stamp, so your material costs are fairly low.  That said it doesn't seem like many are built on standard sized woods etc (or at least not standard sizings in Australia, although I could be doing an imperial vs decimal misunderstanding).

They seem to be largely built out of wood.  Is this because it's a home handyman DIY dream?  Every one of these looks like a roving snack box to termites to me. Nom nom.  And isn't the ongoing maintenance of wood a bit of a PITA - sealing, painting, water proofing, ant proofing, hard to seal tight etc?

If you are putting them on trailers and towing them around then they seem very bulky, chunky - all the wood - what about using sleeker materials, slim steel supports would get you as far with a lot less bulk - or is it again the aesthetic and the home handyman thing?

There are some great designs out there that are doable in a post peak oil world (or largely) - and can be built for under $300 USD.  Generally they are using recycled housing materials, 'natural' wall components (clay, hay etc).

It seems most of the American ones rely heavily on modern technologies still - heaters/fires, airconditioners, chemical toilets and water heaters.  Most are two story (to get the bed space in) - they are building up instead of out.  If you are building in the wilds why make it that you have to climb a dinky ladder to crawl into a bed space that you can't sit up in? Why not add a wider floor plan and have a subsequently larger roof for more water collection.  Which is another point - none of these (fixed ones) seem to have a water tank.  Or even gutters. Or solar panels for roofing.  Why not have solar panels for roofing, and the water runs down into a tank?

Finally - many of them are overly ornate. Complicated roof structures, dicky little porches, odd shaped windows. Not easy to construct (and partly why I'm confused these are in wood/for the home handyman), and turn from functionality to 'tweeness'.

I'm tempted to build one as a guest house/studio, and see how I like it - but the argument I'll have with my husband is "we've 5,000 acres, why build something so small and just have to come back and add onto it later?".

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Comments
merccom From: merccom Date: December 18th, 2011 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
different strokes for different folks i guess.

for the most part if you want a house thats mobile get an rv or convert a bus if you want to build something.

if you are going to build a house in a fixed location getting an old mobile home will probably be more economical

if you're using local materials most of the tiny house designs are out the window because you are makeing due with what you got.

now if you dont mind spending the money and the time and feel the need to have something quarky then a tiny house could be right up your ally.
albionwood From: albionwood Date: December 19th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe too many of them are designed by architects. This means they use materials and systems architects are familiar with (and can attach prices to); and they feel the need to compensate for the inconvenience and low status of a small house, by making it ornate.

The great designs using recycled materials are largely non-architected. Caution: Wall components are the easiest part of any building. It's really all about the roof. That's always been my problem with straw-bale building: the foundation and roof aspects.

Solar-panel roofing is very new, so few people have any experience with it. Taking chances with the roof is extremely risky.

The answer to your husband's question should be, "Building a smaller initial structure allows you to expand with better understanding of your actual needs. You make fewer expensive mistakes that way, compared with building out to full size all at once. Some of your initial assumptions are going to be wrong, but you won't know which until you've lived there for a while."
theheretic From: theheretic Date: December 20th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm a fan of the Craftsman Bungalow. They're very common in California and are one of the few designs, like Victorians, that hold their value in down real-estate periods. Bungalows are small, but not too small, and have good light. They are cute, functional, and not overly large or tiny. The Tiny House is mostly a Joke, a riff on the nonsense from Walden Pond. If you want boredom and turtle exposition, read Walden. I found it irritating. Walden is for jackasses and shroomers. Not real people with a future. Bungalows are good housing for people with some self consciousness and manners. The more I explore the housing market today, the more certain I am that Bungalows, not Ranch Houses, are the better investment.
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